The Consumers’ Association sounds the alarm about data trading through free apps such as Tinder and Grindr. Research by a Norwegian consumer organization shows that ten popular free applications collect user data and pass it on to more than 135 parties. This happens without the knowledge and therefore without the permission of the users.
Things go wrong with the dating apps Tinder and Grindr, two ovulation apps and the Perfect365 makeup app. The latter app takes the crown, according to the Norwegian study, with the resale of private data to 72 different data traders.
The OKCupid dating app, which is not widely used in the Netherlands, also shares a combination of sensitive information such as age, gender, location, orientation and drug use, according to the Consumer Association. Some apps also share data from users who have explicitly indicated that they are advertising tracking not allowed. This includes Grindr.
Sandra Moolenaar, director of the Consumers’ Association, says that politics must intervene. “This illegal data trade allows companies to target ads specifically to, for example, a 26-year-old gay, single woman in Amsterdam who sometimes uses recreational drugs,” she says. “That is insane, but the data can also end up in the wrong hands.”
The Dutch Data Protection Authority says in a response: “These are examples of why we focus on this. We have some investigations in progress in this area.”
A spokesperson points out that there is a reason for strict legislation. “We believe it is very important that people in this digitized world can trust that organizations handle their personal data with care. We work together with our European colleagues and will enforce it where necessary.”